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Many Conservatives Act Post Modern – What Living Abroad Taught Me About Christianity and Politics: Part 2

March 12, 2016

What is Truth

In Part One of this article series, I explained the first way my Christian political opinion “shifted” while living abroad in the Czech Republic for three years:  Living abroad opened my eyes to the moral problem of political corruption.  In Part Two, I share with you the second shift.

Shift #2: Living abroad brought a teacher into my life who explained the deep impact of post-modernism on government.

When you live in an expatriate community, you encounter unique individuals with refined opinions. I had the privilege of interacting regularly with the Rev. Dr. Thomas K. Johnson, an expert on human rights and a member of the International Institute for Religious Freedom. In conversation, he explained that post-modernism has fundamentally changed the process of debate and law-making in government. In modernism, society assumed that there was an ultimate Truth to seek and find.  Divergent opinions each held at least a kernel of Truth. Politicians with opposite perspectives understood that although their opinions differed, ultimately they were working together to find Truth– the best laws, the best systems. Political compromise enabled politicians to seek Truth together.

The post-modernism found in today’s society says truth is relative. There is not one Truth that anyone can find; rather truth depends on your perspective. Popular magazines wax poetic about living “my truth.” This relativity of truth causes chaos in government. How do we find the best laws if we don’t have confidence that higher Truth even exists? The answer is power. Law-making has been boiled down to a duel to determine what perspective wins. Whoever “shouts the loudest” while manipulating the government and the public gets to have their laws passed.

Such an explanation of today’s political climate is not solely the idea of an American expat in Prague.  David Brooks wrote in the New York Times: “We live in a big, diverse society. There are essentially two ways to maintain order and get things done in such a society — politics or some form of dictatorship. Either through compromise or brute force. Our founding fathers chose politics.” Brooks is saying the same thing as Johnson did, only with different words.  In modernism, our government operated through politics.  In post-modernism, two opposing forces in our government are attempting to operate via a veiled attempt at dictatorship. Brooks identifies today’s Tea Party as an example of this, and I would identify President Obama’s habit of making executive orders as another.

So, when I see candidates – including Right-Wing “Christian” ones – slime their opponents or brag about causing a government shutdown in Congress because of a refusal to compromise, I do not see Christian or even modern politicians, I see post-modern combatants. When I see candidates presumptuously promise “I will surely beat _______ in the general election,” I do not see politicians, I see soldiers in a war. But when I see candidates share about compromises they’ve made and speak with a respectful tone about their political opponents, I see leaders I could respect, even if I disagree with some of their stances.

Now, those last few statements sounded post-modern, since in post-modernism, perspective is truth. However, my perspectives are not necessarily the whole truth. They are opinion. That is an important difference. Perhaps if our governmental leaders had the same attitude, our nation would prosper in justice. We are not a theocracy— Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Neither should we be in a perpetual spirit of post-modern civil war. We are a democracy. Let’s act like it! Truth will prevail.

Continue to Part 3!

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